Those words – Made-in-America and Made-in-Michigan — are of utmost importance to Michiganders. I know since I was born and raised in the Metro Detroit area. The past years in Michigan have been very tough economic wise. And even though many people assume most manufacturing has been sent overseas, manufacturing water heaters at Bradford White’s Middleville, Michigan plant is going strong. I just visited the plant and learned that well over 7,000 water heaters come off the assembly line every day.
Based on my visit to Bradford White this week, it’s easy to see that the company has remained true to its founding principles which are supporting the American worker by manufacturing products in the U.S.; employee ownership to encourage pride and loyalty; and dedication to the trade through wholesale only distribution. Bradford White subsidiaries are growing as well, which includes Laars Heating Systems — the company has added a new customer training center and additional factory space — and Niles Steel Tank has invested in process equipment and tank lining technology.
I also had the opportunity to visit Bradford White’s International Technical Excellence Center, iTEC, while Lee Supply, a wholesale customer of Bradford White, was visiting to partake in hands-on training sessions. The training center, which is 18,000-sq.ft. and LEED Gold certified, features a high-tech lecture hall, a 5-million BTU capacity “live-fire” training lab with 10 working stations for live demonstrations and hands-on learning experience. Plus, there is a mechanical room in the building that showcases a variety of energy-efficient, variable-frequency drive HVAC systems with boilers, pumps, heat exchangers, geothermal equipment and domestic hot water tanks.
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Highlights of the International Technical Excellence Center include: a rainwater harvesting system that provides the building with non-potable water; solar thermal panels that supply heat and hot water throughout the building; photovoltaic power supplements electrical power; an in-floor radiant heating system throughout the building; and a snowmelt system.
I also want to mention that recently, Bradford White introduced its new Brute Series line of gas-fired boilers and volume water heaters – both of these products are manufactured at the Laars plant in Rochester, New Hampshire. The product line includes both residential and commercial boilers, from 50 to 2,400 MBH, and up to 98% AFUE.
The Brute Series includes the 50 to 225 MBH, chimney-vented Brute Mini; the modulating-condensing 80 to 850 MBH Brute Elite; the 95% AFUE, 125 MBH, wall-mounted Brute Elite with optional DHW Combi models; the 1000 to 1700 MBH, mod-con Brute Elite offering a 10:1 turndown; the 200 to 2,000 MBH Brute Deluxe; the multi-stage 200 to 2,000 MBH Copper Brute II ; and the 1,200 to 2,400 MBH Brute Magnum. The Brute product line also includes volume water heaters ranging from 150 to 2,400 MBH in standard efficiency and highly efficient condensing models. The new product line is added to Bradford White’s extensive line of residential and commercial water heaters.
While driving back to Chicago from my Bradford White visit, I couldn’t help but think what a great example Bradford White is to the plumbing industry and manufacturers in general — Bradford White is proof that it is possible to manufacture product in the U.S. and be successful and competitive. Thank you Bradford White for manufacturing in the U.S.A. and in Michigan!